On Victory and Defeat: From "On War"

Princeton University Press
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The seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have renewed the age-old debate over what constitutes military victory. Will the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan be seen as a sign of victory or defeat? Although the nature of warfare has changed dramatically since Clausewitz's On War was first written, this selection from his classic work remains an invaluable source of insight for understanding what it means to achieve victory in war and how to recognize defeat.

Princeton Shorts are brief selections excerpted from influential Princeton University Press publications produced exclusively in eBook format. They are selected with the firm belief that while the original work remains an important and enduring product, sometimes we can all benefit from a quick take on a topic worthy of a longer book.

In a world where every second counts, how better to stay up-to speed on current events and digest the kernels of wisdom found in the great works of the past? Princeton Shorts enables you to be an instant expert in a world where information is everywhere but quality is at a premium. On Victory and Defeat does just that.

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About the author

On War is the most significant attempt in Western history to understand war, both in its internal dynamics and as an instrument of policy. Since the work's first appearance in 1832, it has been read throughout the world, and has stimulated generations of soldiers, statesmen, and intellectuals.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 1, 1989
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Pages
26
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ISBN
9781400841158
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Germans interpret their new national colours—black, red, and white—by the saying, “Durch Nacht und Blut zur licht.” (“Through night and blood to light”), and no work yet written conveys to the thinker a clearer conception of all that the red streak in their flag stands for than this deep and philosophical analysis of “War” by Clausewitz.

It reveals “War,” stripped of all accessories, as the exercise of force for the attainment of a political object, unrestrained by any law save that of expediency, and thus gives the key to the interpretation of German political aims, past, present, and future, which is unconditionally necessary for every student of the modern conditions of Europe. Step by step, every event since Waterloo follows with logical consistency from the teachings of Napoleon, formulated for the first time, some twenty years afterwards, by this remarkable thinker.

What Darwin accomplished for Biology generally Clausewitz did for the Life-History of Nations nearly half a century before him, for both have proved the existence of the same law in each case, viz., “The survival of the fittest”—the “fittest,” as Huxley long since pointed out, not being necessarily synonymous with the ethically “best.” Neither of these thinkers was concerned with the ethics of the struggle which each studied so exhaustively, but to both men the phase or condition presented itself neither as moral nor immoral, any more than [ vi ] are famine, disease, or other natural phenomena, but as emanating from a force inherent in all living organisms which can only be mastered by understanding its nature. It is in that spirit that, one after the other, all the Nations of the Continent, taught by such drastic lessons as Koniggratz and Sedan, have accepted the lesson, with the result that to-day Europe is an armed camp, and peace is maintained by the equilibrium of forces, and will continue just as long as this equilibrium exists, and no longer.
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